Devotions – Holy Week – April 1-7, 2012
Pastor Lee Goodwin Marinette, Wisconsin
April 1 - The Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday
In this week’s devotions I would like to invite you to enter into this Holy Week in a way that is oriented toward the lived experience of the week. Each day will begin with a simple act of quieting followed by a brief reading from Scripture, some questions to consider and a prayer for the day. Take your time with all this. Let the words, the questions and your own reflections on these days steep. No need to be in a hurry. After all what else do you have to do right now but this slowing, this momentary resting in the knowing of God’s intimate presence.
Sit still. Take this moment, with your feet on the ground, to pay attention to your breath - that perpetual reminder that God is with you as the breath of your life and all life. You don’t have to control your breathing. Your body knows how to breathe without guidance from you. Just be aware of the breath as it comes and as it goes. The Spirit breathing in you.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
Can you remember a time when you met the God who comes to us in human form? What do you remember about that encounter? Where have you seen or experienced the presence of Christ in another person or in a community, church or other?
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take our flesh upon him and to suffer death on the cross. Grant that we may share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Pray for the members of Grace, Pembine and Pastor Eugene Wickman as they celebrate the 87th anniversary of the congregation this month.
April 2 - Monday in Holy Week
Sit still. Take this moment, with your feet on the ground, to pay attention to your body as it sits or maybe stands here - recalling that God has taken on flesh, a body, in order to set us free for living in our bodies. Notice the weight of your body as it contacts the floor. Notice any sensations you have in your body right now. We know what we know through our bodily senses. The five famous ones and thinking as a sixth sense. And your sense of “feels right, doesn’t feel right” – called interoception. Or holding up your hand and knowing where it is. Walking in the dark and not falling over - called proprioception. Our bodies are indeed temples of the Holy Spirit.
143 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. 4But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. 9Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” --Mark 14:3-9
Why do you suppose Jesus speaks so highly of the anointing by the woman with the ointment? What in her act makes it so important that Jesus declares it to be universally a part of the Gospel (good news)?
Prayer of the Day: O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy and to the cross before glory. Plant his cross in our hearts, so that in its power and love we may come at last to joy and glory, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Pray for the members of Emmanuel, Baltimore MD (Rev Bobby Booher), Glen, Glen Burnie MD (Rev David Berg), Harvest Wind, Mt Airy MD (Rev Cary Moorman), and Jerusalem, Whiteford MD (Rev Hugo Schroeder).
April 3 – Tuesday in Holy Week
Sit still. When do you turn to these devotions - at the beginning or the end of the day, or perhaps somewhere in the middle? Whenever you take this time, it helps to notice the transition from what you were doing before this time and what will be coming next. Notice any thoughts of the past or expectations of the future that pop up in your mind. Do these uninvited thoughts seem to be intrusions? No problem. They’re just thoughts in a busy mind. Turn your attention back to sitting still and proceed again and again if necessary in this sacred time to turn your attention to God.
Knowing that God is with us and paying attention to the God who is with us are not necessarily the same things. Since you’re reading this right now, you seem to want to pay attention to God and how it is that God is showing up in this moment. So, sit still and proceed.
111 5Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”18And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. –Mark 11:15-19
In your conception of Jesus, is there room for his human anger? Is he always meek and mild - like some portraits of him carrying little lambs? If Jesus is always so meek and mild – why do you suppose religious and political authorities wanted to kill him - and why did all of his followers abandon him at the end? The prayer below asks that we not deny Jesus in “the time of trial.” In the ecumenical version of the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Save us from the time of trial.” Whose time of trial threatens us most –Jesus,’ our own, or both? And when the “time of trial” threatens us, what would being saved from it look like to you?
Prayer of the Day: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Pray for Pastor Jesse Brown and the members of Our Redeemer, Newberry as they began ministry together in February.
April 4 – Wednesday in Holy Week
Sit still. The Christian life has been described as a journey. Your life is a journey from birth to death. We’re all of us on our way. Most journeys are a mixture of going and stopping. Right now you have stopped. So, sit still and inhabit this moment. Never mind what you were doing or what you will be doing next. Simply, sit still and breathe. Lean back into the larger presence of God, in which your life is held.
26 17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” 25Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.” -- Matthew 26:17-25
How is this Holy Week going for you? The big events are coming up, but right now it’s Wednesday. You, no doubt, are well aware of where the story is headed. Do you have a sense of how this unfolding drama can be more than an extended reading of ancient stories? What does betrayal mean? And, can you identify with the disciples, all of whom nervously claim that they will not be the betrayer? What would betrayal of Jesus look like on a Wednesday in April, in Wisconsin or Upper Michigan in 2012?
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands and endured the shame of the cross. Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross and find it the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Pray for seminarian Bill Retza, Distributive Learning student at Luther Seminary as he celebrates his birthday today
April 5 – Maundy Thursday
Sit still. The three days, often called the Triduum, have begun. Three days woven together as one. Not three events, but one seamless, life-giving event. Sit still. Prepare to listen carefully. Practice listening right now by noticing any sounds you may hear around you. Your computer humming. Birds outside. Cars driving by. The furnace kicking on. Other members of your household going about their business. Sit still. Practice careful listening. Prepare to hear, in these next three days, what is the story of your life.
11 23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1Cor. 11:23-26
How amazing is it that exactly on the night in which he was betrayed Jesus instituted this sacrament of unity? Who are you separated from? From whom or what are you divided? Can the meal established on this holy night be the beginning, however small, of a new unity. Can the shared bread and wine, the body and blood, bind you together with whoever it is you are distant? Who is it that stands or kneels with you at the altar of God’s self-emptying love?
Prayer of the Day: Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave us a new commandment, to love one another as he loves us. Write this commandment in our hearts, and give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, pray that you too may find wholeness in a life of service as you seek to be a faithful disciple of your master.
April 6 – Good Friday
Sit still. Behold the life giving cross on which is hung the salvation of the whole world.
23 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. –Luke 23:46
In the service of Prayer at the Close of the Day (Compline) we repeat these words, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Daily prayer guides into this daily rehearsal for death and a daily remembrance of our shared mortality with Jesus. What is it like to say those words - to say them about your own life – to say them with Jesus?
Prayer of the Day: Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself. Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
We are here at the foot of the cross, we gaze into his eyes, we see his pain, and in all this we experience God’s gifts of grace. Pray that as you leave the cross you take the crucified Christ with you.
April 7 – Holy Saturday – The Vigil of Easter
Sit still. This is the holy night of anticipation. The Old Testament stories of our life-saving God are told. We sit, waiting for resurrection. Remembering the waters of baptism in which we were reborn. Silence. Waiting. Patience. Trust. Hope. Longing. Sit still. Be still and know that God is God
36 24I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Read through the following poem slowly, twice.
What keeps us from sleeping
they have threatened us with resurrection.
Accompany us, then,
on this vigil
and you will know
how marvelous it is
threatened with resurrection. - Julia Esquival
Prayer of the Day: Eternal giver of life and light, this holy night shines with the radiance of the risen Christ. Renew your church with the Spirit given us in baptism, that we may worship you in sincerity and truth and may shine as a light in the world, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
As the day draws to a close and darkness descends and deepens, we do not yet see light, yet we know the blazing light of Easter is about to burst forth. Pray for hope in the dark times of your life, knowing that the life of the resurrected Christ is God’s gift to you. Pray also for Seminarian Kristin Rice, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, as she celebrates her birthday this day.